If you are reading this, you probably worry about chemicals in your food and water and how that impacts your health.
So, you grow some of your own food, herbs for cooking, maybe even livestock for eggs, milk or meat.
But what do you do about your medicine cabinet?
You may believe when something goes wrong — a little ache or minor injury — there is no way to avoid reaching for the familiar box with the red cross, grabbing an aspirin or another drug to deal with your everyday health need.
But you’d be wrong.
There exists a body of knowledge that stretches back generations on how to use the plants and natural substances to live a healthy life, including treating the ailments that strike suddenly and without warning.
And it is not just about avoiding modern medicine, it’s about getting in touch with what your body needs, according to herbalist and radio host Rhonda Dial.
“You feed the body the food it needs,” she said. “it has the god given ability to heal itself.”
After spending 20 years as an herbalist, she has found hundreds of ways to treat common ailments, from headaches to scrapes.
“I don’t use any chemicals,” she said. “I have a menagerie of things in my bathroom.”
Dial put together a short list of some of her favorite remedies. You can use it to create your own herbal first aid kit at home.
Peppermint has been historically used at least since the Greek empire. The plant, which grows easily in most climates, can be used to treat naseau, indigestion and bloating.
It can be used as a fresh herb, dried or as an oil
“Peppermint oil in my pocket all the time,” Dial said.
She uses it topically to treat headaches resulting from sinus pressure.
Peppermint creates a cooling sensation when applied to the skin. Because of this, peppermint oil can be used to treat hot flashes. Dial suggests using 10 drops in two ounces of water. The mixture is applied with a fine spray mister for hot flashes.
For stomach issues, take peppermint oil capsules orally, or gather some mint from your garden and make tea with it. Boil sprigs of mint in two cups of water. Use more or less mint to suit your own taste. After the water boils, let the tea steep for about three minutes. Strain out the leaves (they can be composted). If you want to sweeten the tea, try local honey and a little lemon juice.
“Magnesium is a muscle relaxer,” Dial said.
Dial said some headaches can be caused by a magnesium deficiency which causes stiff muscles in the neck and shoulders.
Magnesium, Dial said, can be taken in tablet form or can be absorbed through magnesium rich foods.
“Dark chocolate is naturally rich in magnesium,” Dial said.
Other foods rich in magnesium include kale, chard, pumpkin seeds and avocado.\
Magnesium, Dial said, is also good for menstrual pain and cramps.
Activated charcoal, which can be taken in capsule form, can be used to rid the body of toxins or poisons.
Dial suggests travelers carry it when they leave the country to treat diarrhea, excessive gas or stomach aches.
Black Elderberry can be found in warmer parts of Europe and North America. It can be used preventatively, Dial said, to prevent colds and flu.
“That can be taken all winter,” Dial said.
Elderberry can be consumed in concentrated capsules and pills, but you can also make tea from wild elderberry.
Add three teaspoons of dried elderberry flowers into a half a cup of boiling water. Simmer for about ten minutes, strain and allow it to cool.
“70 percent of your immune system is in your large intestine,” Dial said.
As such, she suggests consuming probiotics – either purchased in pill form, or through foods rich in pro biotic material – to help support general as well as digestive health.
“You can eat foods that can help with good bacteria: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut.” she said.
“That’s nature’s bandaid,” Dial said.
Comfrey is an herb that can be cultivated nearly anywhere.
Also know as “knitbone” comfrey is used topically to treat bruises, sprains and minor scrapes. The leaves, which are fuzzy, can be applied directly to the skin to promote healing and reduce inflammation. Most of the time, Dial said, it sticks to the skin, but it can also be held in place with a bandage.
Dial said staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to promote good health.
Staying hydrated helps the bodies mucus membranes do their job, Dial said, and allows the body’s natural healing process to work.
Bee pollen and “plain old vitamin C”
Both these substances can be taken daily to help promote good health and support a healthy immune system Dial said.
Editor’s note: As with any health advice, consult a professional before using any treatment which could cause adverse side effects. Remember, always use common sense.
About Rhonda Dial:
Rhonda Dial is a Master Herbalist, with over three decades of experience who lives and works in Hoover, Alabama.
She teaches classes at Go Natural Herbs weekly, hosts a local television show on an ABC affiliate in Alabama as well as a weekly radio show.
Click here to find out more about Rhonda Dial and her practice.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014 issue of From Scratch magazine. To read this article and see more images, click here. This article starts on page 100.